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The Earth’s Oceans Are Drowning in Plastic

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Only nine percent of all plastic discarded since 1950 has been recycled. The other 91 percent has been taken to landfills, turned into incinerator emissions, or ended up in the oceans.

Earth’s oceans are drowning in plastic. Humans created 311 million metric tons of the stuff in 2014, and it is expected that we’ll be making four times as much by 2050—yet only about 5 percent of plastic is currently recycled. It’s been estimated that eight million metric tons of the plastic that goes to waste—the equivalent of a full garbage truck—is dumped into our oceans every minute.

In a series of stunning photos and informative graphics, the new book Plastic Soup: An Atlas of Ocean Pollution documents the plastic pollution crisis engulfing Earth’s seas, the impacts of that pollution on wildlife and people, and initiatives that have been created to tackle the problem.

Microplastics have been found in the guts of marine mammals, sea turtle hatchlings, and humans around the globe, and plastic water bottles and snack-food packaging have even been found in the deepest parts of the oceans, at depths of nearly 11,000 meters or 36,100 feet.

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